Earlier today, the developer behind ZombieVille USA and Battleheart, Mika Mobile, blogged that they would no longer develop for Android, stating that they found the cost to support the platform unsustainable.
We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android in one way or another – porting, platform specific bug fixes, customer service, etc. I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn’t go through. We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android. Meanwhile, Android sales amounted to around 5% of our revenue for the year, and continues to shrink. Needless to say, this ratio is unsustainable.
As expected, the blog is being picked up by sites all over as an indication of the dreaded fragmentation argument. I won’t look at it through rose-tinted glasses: I know there are complications with supporting so many devices. I personally have never ventured into development where platform-specific issues arise.
However, there are tons of examples of apps succeeding in the Android Market that provide a really good experience, so maybe there’s more to Mika Mobile’s lack of success. One finger I could point to is that the last time they updated either Battleheart or Zombieville was July of last year. That seriously harms the game’s search results, which could be the reason they have only seen 50,000 to 100,000 downloads in both games.
I always compare the fragmentation issue with web-development. I’ve been doing some for the last six months, and with all the cross-browser issues, I must admit, Android development (keep in mind, the non platform-specific one) feels like a piece of cake.